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UN mandate prolonged: pluses and minuses

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, February 17
The UN observers have had their mandate prolonged until June 15. There is a difference between this extended mandate and the previous one however. This time the mission’s title does not indicate where the mission is to: now it is just the UN Mission, whereas before it was the UN Observers Mission in Georgia – UNOMIG.

As always Russia has blackmailed the world by threatening to veto any other decision, claiming anything it didn’t want would ignore the “new reality,” meaning Russia’s recognition of its own hand puppets, the so-called “Independent Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” Georgia would not agree to any reference to these names in the title of the mission or official documents as this would have meant indirect recognition of Moscow’s actions. So there was deadlock. But Georgia needed an international organization to at least partially monitor the situation in the Russian-occupied territories. So it agreed to such a vague name for the mission.

The Kremlin, also, seems to be partly satisfied. Churkin, the Russian envoy to the UN, states that “The name of the mission in Georgia has already changed.”

A very interesting explanation of these moves is suggested by political analyst Archil Gegeshidze. He says the Abkhaz are not willing to remain tete a tete with the Russians. They want a third eye to watch Russian conduct on the breakaway territory. Therefore all sides are now more or less satisfied.

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze thinks Moscow did not want to continually reject all international decisions as this would stress Russia’s destructive role in international relations. The so-called Foreign Minister of the puppet Abkhaz Government, Sergey Shamba, has stated that they did not insist on the use of their name in the title of the mission because during a meeting with the US delegation the latter explained that due to the Presidential elections there was a lack of time to elaborate a position on the mandate issue. “Therefore we agreed to extend the mandate of the mission for four additional months” (!) Is this not a classic example of an inferiority complex in action?

The Georgian side, at least visibly, is also satisfied with the result. Grigol Vashadze particularly stresses the paragraph which demands that the August 12, 2008 Sarkozy-brokered ceasefire plan is fulfilled. This envisages the withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from Georgian territory and their return to prewar positions. The Georgian side has also expressed its readiness to participate in work on elaborating the new mandate by June this year. Whether any of the issues which have led to the name change will have gone away by then remains to be seen.